And on 14 June 2013, the Strip Search finale was no exception! We had watched them battle through the ranks, we had watched them face off against all the challenges, and it was finally time to find out who was going to win the grand prize of a year working in the Penny Arcade offices and $15,000 in cold hard cash.
For the final challenge, Abby Howard, Katie Rice and Maki Naro were all given two months to go away and come up with an all-new webcomic to impress Mike and Jerry. To prove they were serious about this concept, they also had to create three character biographies and a T-shirt design. At the end of the day, one strip and its creator stood above all and was crowned The Strip We Are Looking For: Katie Rice and her concept of a summer camp for abandoned children, Camp Weedonwantcha. But that was not the end of the story for Abby or Katie, and here’s what they’ve been doing in the five years since.
Abby came into the competition as the creator of Junior Scientist Power Hour, a comic which she has continued to update since the competition and into the present day. As well as working on the JSPH strip, Abby has published an upcoming book on Dinosaurs, a podcast with her sister, and a short collection of short horror comics at Terror Town. She’s also active on Tumblr, and was invited back to Penny Arcade to give young Gabe “The Talk.”
Abby also took the strip that she workshopped as part of the competition and brought it into its own. The Last Halloween has been updating consistently since Abby conceived of it in the finale, and has the additional (if questionable) honour of being the only comic from the competition which I have kept up with myself.
Our Queen of the Competition, Katie had come in as the well-established author of Skadi, which began as a collaboration way back in 2008 telling the tale of a barbarian woman on a holy quest to eat every kind of meat in the world. Sadly, the comic’s long run ended in May last year, when Katie finally closed off the story.
Katie took full advantage of her Strip Search victory, developing Camp Weedonwantcha under the auspices of the Penny Arcade brand and continuing to update the site to this day. The comic has been featured on the front page of the PA site for the last five years, the comic and characters have been a part of “Pinny Arcade” since it’s inception, and the comic is regularly showcased as part of PAX (and, of course, THE MERCH!). In November, Katie also released the first year and a half of comic updates as a print volume.
Katie’s run in the Penny Arcade offices ended up extending well beyond the term of the competition prize, only wrapping up at the end of March 2017 when Katie moved back to California to start a new job at Nickelodeon as a storyboard artist. Even so, Camp Weedonwantcha continues to update and it looks like it will for some time yet!
And thus we come to the close of our Strip Search retrospective! Five years on, it surprised me to find how some of the competitor’s careers had progressed since the competition, especially those who stayed in the webcomic world. Do you know anything that we missed? Is one of your favourite Strip Search contestants up to something that we didn’t cover? We’d love to find out, or hear which of these comics/creators you’ve kept up with yourself – let us know in the comments!
And until next time, dear readers, remember – don’t eat the clickbait!